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Archive for June, 2019

Fencing (Hopefully for Free)

June 30th, 2019 at 09:03 pm

We are working on putting up a fence around the garden. Well, part of it is fenced, but we needed to bring the fence up to the driveway because we have a pair of deer that have been visiting and earlier this week they ate the cauliflower heads off of all of Mom's cauliflower plants.

DH tore down the slaughter station and we are using the deck blocks and 4 x 4's from it to run across the driveway and the little strip of grass that the sewer line runs under next to the house. We are using the door from the turkey pen as the gate. We've got those in place with extra support across the driveway and then we need to pound in 3 t-posts and then run fencing around all the posts. It will be about eight inches off the ground so the cat (Mrs. Norris) that comes to visit and hunt mice can still get through and the little rabbits who can't get into the raised beds can still come and go. And we can fit a weed eater under it where the sewer line runs.

We will also be using at least one of the PVC gates we had built for the chicken yard back when we had chickens. It has a hole in it right where you need to reach through and open the latch, so that is convenient.

I really hope we won't have to purchase anything for this fence. We like to recycle as much as we can from around the farm and not just buy all new building materials. We have quite a bit from old projects and from things we are tearing down. The hinges we used for the gate used to be on the duck coop. We are reusing as much green plastic fencing as we can.

I think we will have enough, but we might have to use a little chicken wire to make up the difference. But we have chicken wire on the old turkey pen we can use. It might not be quite as aesthetically pleasing as if it were all made out of one type of fencing, but you can't really see it from the street, so that's not too big of an issue. It's more important that we protect our garden and all the hard work we have done so far.

Grocery Spending Tracking

June 29th, 2019 at 05:52 pm

Yesterday was my two week grocery shopping trip. We hit 4 stores, Trader Joe's, Costco, Fred Meyer, and Haggen. I did not buy a lot of meat, some sausages at Costco and some ribeyes for Independence Day at FM. We have a lot of chicken and beef in the freezer from the big sales at the end of May and beginning of June so are good on that for a long while yet.

All totaled I spent $391.08 out of a $400 two week grocery budget. I do have money left from the last pay period, which is good, because I still have to buy milk and lemonade. I did not go to the store that has the milk we like because they were replacing the sidewalks yesterday and traffic is bad enough on that road when nothing is going on. We will run up there this evening and pick up milk, which will be an additional $4.99, but then I will still have about $50 left for bread and milk if we run out before next payday.

We have enough potatoes for the month so I won't need to buy any more of those next pay period.

In addition to grocery I spent $63.87 out of the $75 household budget, to get 1 container of dish washing soap, 1 mega container of dishwasher soap, 1 bottle of body wash, and 2 mega packs of Charmin toilet paper. A spendy day, but everything planned for and within budget.

At Trader Joe's I spent $88.32 and I bought:

1 pack string cheese
3 packages of frozen roasted potatoes with peppers
5 boxes of maple pecan granola cereal
2 boxes frozen mac and cheese
1 box frozen fish nuggets
2 packages pecan bits and pieces (extra for the cereal)
5 lbs of russet potatoes
12 lbs of Yukon gold potatoes
2 packages hot dog buns
1 package hamburger buns
4 dozen tortillas
2 English cucumbers
1 iceberg lettuce

My leaf lettuce in the garden has started to turn bitter and the head lettuce has another week before I can harvest one. Otherwise I wouldn't buy lettuce.

At Costco I spent $196.63 on groceries and bought:

1 box organic blackberries
1 box organic blueberries
1 2-pack sharp white cheddar shreds
2 2-packs avocado spray oil
1 container of pure maple syrup
3 packages of Kerrygold butter
1 10 pound bag organic sugar
1 container cashews
1 wedge Parmesan cheese
1 wedge Romano cheese
3 12 piece sausage packs
2 24 count organic eggs

At Fred Meyers I didn't get much but spent $54.36 and purchased:

20 pounds of ice
2 family packs of crackers (forgot them at Costco)
6 big ribeye steaks ($5.99/lb)

At Haggen I just got a few things and paid $51.77.

1 loaf Naked potato bread
2 packages Fearless Franks (uncured)
3 pounds red cherries
1 flat local organic strawberries
3.5 lbs of organic sweet yellow onions

It was a good shopping trip and I was happy on the price of most items.

Payday Report for 6/28/19

June 28th, 2019 at 08:59 am

$327.36 Tithe
$400.00 Grocery Envelope
$400.00 Medical Fund
__75.00 Household Envelope
$100.00 Car Insurance Fund
$372.41 Autopays
$148.75 Citi Card
__61.75 Life Insurance DH
__60.46 Life Insurance Me
_100.00 Blow Money Adults
_120.00 Allowances Kids
--------------
3244.56 Total Money Out

There is a little money left from the paycheck, but I intend to use it to buy DD some flip flops.

Monster Mom Loan Payment

June 28th, 2019 at 08:45 am

$17,400.00 Balance Forward
-_1,000.00 Amount Paid
-----------
$16,400.00 New Balance

This means I was able to pay off a total of $1800 this month. Next month I should hit my milestone of getting it to $15K. The next milestone after that will be $10K, then $5K, then $0.00. I can't wait to have this last debt gone.

Results for the MRI

June 27th, 2019 at 03:29 pm

DD has a 2.7 cm lesion on her liver. That slightly over an inch. It's round, too, so the inch is the diameter. The results of the MRI came back and it looks like a benign tumor, so now she has to go back to the G.I. and see if further imaging needs to be done and/or surgery might need to be performed. I don't know what further imagery they can do, I thought an MRI was the ultimate imaging, so that part confuses me. Maybe an ultrasound? I guess we will find out when the referral comes through.

I am really glad we have hit our out of pocket max for the year. This would be really expensive otherwise.

MRI for DD and Non-Toxic Garden Spray Recipe

June 27th, 2019 at 12:11 am

I spent an hour and a half in the waiting room while my daughter got an MRI today on that spot on her liver. I was hopped up on Dayquil and Sudafed. My eyes are bad tonight because I read almost the whole time, but what else are you going to do? They had no internet. They also had bad waiting room chairs, so my hip and back hurt. I hope whatever they find is treatable.

I made spaghetti in the Instant Pot with some of my frozen meatballs, because that was the extent of my abilities. That means there is only one bag left of those, so I need to make more when I feel able. I might end up doing a triple batch this time. I am thinking of ordering a 30 quart stainless steel bowl so I have one big enough to hold 12 pounds of ground meat, plus all the stuff I mix into it. The one I have holds 4 pounds of ground meat. The bowl costs $31, but I think it would be worth if for the ease of meal prep.

I noticed that there were black aphids on my zucchini and patty pan squash. I made up some garlic spray tonight that will be ready to use tomorrow. All you do is take 2 cups of warm water and crush up half a head of garlic and add 1 tbsp of dish soap (I use an organic, eco-friendly soap). Shake it up. Let that steep overnight, strain out the garlic and put the liquid into a spray bottle. Then you can spray that on the affected areas of the plant.

It is non-toxic to the plant and it really works well for aphids. Since I always use organic methods in the garden, this spray is my number one way of fighting these little beasties. You have to reapply it after you water or it rains until the aphids are dead. I've only used it on brassicas before. I've never had aphids on my squash until this year. I didn't even know aphids liked squash.

I read about another remedy, too, that I may try in the future. You prune a tomato branch and cut it up into little pieces and then steep it in water overnight with dish soap, strain, and use it the same way on non-tomato plants. It emits a natural pesticide. I'd never seen this one before, so thought it would be a cool one to try and see if it is as effective as the other one. I'll let you know the results if I make it.

Oh, and if anyone is curious, the reason for the dish soap is that it helps it adhere to the plant.

Retirement Update

June 26th, 2019 at 11:44 pm

$9,175.89 401K
+8,869.89 IRA
--------------
18,045.73 New Balance

Retirement is up $1284.90 since June 5th. I normally won't check it more than once a month, but DH was getting all the log in information set up on my computer so I can monitor it myself, so I jotted down the balances. That is not all contributions, either. It is nice to see it growing and I hope it continues.

Sick and a Visit to the Freezer Bank

June 24th, 2019 at 08:36 pm

I have really been out of it the last several days. I picked up a bug at the doctor's office when I went in for my hip. It's low level, but I am having a hard time shaking it off. It is hard to want to do anything. I've got a couple baskets of clothes and towels to fold and put away and some garden work that needs doing, and nothing. Just not up for it. At least it is not costing me any money, though. Take out was not purchased. Instead I went to the freezer bank.

Today I did not want to cook dinner, so I pulled out one of the bags of frozen chicken that I'd pre-seasoned with fajita spices and a bag of frozen onions and peppers that I'd pre-sliced. All I had to do was thaw out the chicken in the microwave and then dump it all into the Instant Pot. I threw a bag of frozen broccoli in the microwave and steamed it. So with just two to three minutes of hands on time I had a meal thrown together without having to really "cook" at all. This is what the freezer meal bank is for.

Tomorrow will be another Instant Pot meal with half a bag of frozen zucchini shreds (currently thawing in the fridge) from last summer, spaghetti noodles, jarred sauce, and some freeze dried sausage. Hopefully the next day I will be more up for cooking. The only hands on time will be in rehydrating the sausage and then the pouring of everything into the Instant Pot. This device has probably saved me more money than any other kitchen gadget I have ever purchased.

I have started planning my grocery shopping for Friday. I have lists made out for Costco and Trader Joe's. Unless anyone has bell peppers on sale, then I will also make a quick run to Winco. I have been making DH stuffed bell peppers for his work lunches. Those, too, are in the freezer bank and he takes them out as he needs to.

The next time I make breakfast burritos, I think I am going to plan for 36 eggs, 3 pounds of sausage and 48 tortillas. With both DH and DS eating these, we do end up short before the two full weeks is up. I might do one batch that is ham and green onions and not sausage, though, just to change things up a bit. We've got tons of green onions in the garden that need to be used. Maybe I will throw some diced bell peppers in as well, make it a kind of Denver omelet burrito.

Hopefully I will have the energy for this on the weekend. It really does save us a lot of money to have the food ready to go so DH is not tempted to run through the drive-thru on the way to work.

If We Weren't in Debt Maybe We Could Help

June 22nd, 2019 at 09:29 pm

I think my sister and BIL are in trouble. First they wanted mom to take out a mortgage on her house and loan them money so they could buy a new house before they sell their current house. Mom said no. Now it seems like they have racked up some credit card debt and want to move in. Mom said no because there is no space for them. I also suspect because my sister has done nothing to help her over the last decade or she might clear out the attic. Not that BIL can climb stairs. They have a house, but it is in good standing as far as we know.

I think she's just overwhelmed right now. Also, the reason they racked up credit card debt was that my sister was watching her grandson while her DIL was going through chemo treatment and her premature granddaughter was in the NICU. So they used that to get by. BIL is too disabled to work due to disc issues in his back, but he is on disability. Even when the medical issues are not your own, they can lead to debt for people in ways like this.

My mother is very afraid of losing the one asset she has, which is a paid for house. I can't even imagine asking my mom to take that kind of risk when she is about to turn 80 years old. That's why I feel they are in trouble. I don't think she would ask that if they weren't. But maybe they are just treading water. That can be overwhelming, too. I know. We lived that way for years.

I understand how hard it is when you get into credit card debt, so I feel bad for them and wish that we could help, but we are in no position to do so. They are better off than we are. I'd give them FPU if we could afford it, but we have our own debt (the one to my mom) that we are paying off. At the same time, having them come would turn everyone's lives upside down. And there are not enough bathrooms to comfortably add two more people to this house or enough room in the driveway for two more cars.

I guess they will have to dig out on their own. I think that they can if they don't let the overwhelmed feeling take them over.

I feel a little guilty because if we weren't living here and taking care of Mom while getting out of debt, then she could move in and get some help. Yet, at the same time, if she did move in, I'm not sure she'd be taking care of mom as she would have to find work here and she still would have to take care of her husband.

BIL does have an extended family, so I am hoping one of them can help. It's a mess, but I feel a little better just getting it out of my system a little by venting here.

Got My X-rays Back

June 20th, 2019 at 11:20 pm

Well, I have degenerative hip disease in my left hip, but it isn't severe enough for surgery, so I guess that is good, even though it causes some discomfort. The right hip has no sign of disease which is really good news. The doctor thinks that the majority of my pain is coming from muscles, ligaments, and tendons, so we will proceed with physical therapy and hope that works. I have had physical therapy for other things, but never for my hip. I really hope it will help.

The one thing I am worried about is if there will be any treadmill work done. Every time I do any serious walking my legs and feet swell up so severely I feel like a sausage about to blow its casing. And you can visibly note lumps of swelling on my shins. It is painful and can take days to go down. This is because with the RA I am prone towards inflammation. I am kind of hoping they will end up having me do pool therapy as it is so much easier on my joints.

I made an awesome meatloaf for dinner yesterday. I finally made a version that my son liked. He has always been very meh on meatloaf. I also made two extra for the freezer. Bit by bit I am increasing the levels in my freezer bank. I have used one bag of the frozen meatballs the other night when I really wanted to just grab take out and it was so worth it because they are really great tasting.

The meatloaf was basically the same recipe as the meatballs, only with tomato sauce powder, an additional type of cheese, and covered in bacon. Tasted different enough for it to not feel like the same food at all, but as simple to make as the other.

I did not get anything done today. I had a cruddy night of sleep, the kind where you sleep, but don't feel rested at all and then I woke up with a lot of pain in my hip. Actually, that's probably why my sleep was not restful. So other than harvesting some lettuce for dinner, I wasted most of my day on youtube.

Oh, and I did upload a garden update to my youtube channel in the early a.m. FireandI, you might be interested.

Text is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OEp4HewfNk&t=4s and Link is
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OEp4HewfNk&t=4s The garden is starting to make some serious progress.

X-rays, EF, Down Payment Goals, and Mom

June 19th, 2019 at 05:15 pm

Yesterday I finally went to the doctor about my hips/tailbone/pelvis. Today I went for x-rays. I don't think it will cost anything since we have hit the out of pocket max on insurance for the year. If nothing shows up on the x-rays I may end up getting an MRI. He is going to send me to physical therapy unless there is something significantly wrong that needs surgery. He's put in the order to be approved by the insurance at any rate, because that can take a while.

I may end up having to go to an orthopedist at some point. As long as it isn't the one who did my knee surgery in 2019. Rudest man in the world, worst bedside manner of any doctor I have ever known, but was the one who had the schedule to get me in right away, and I was in bad pain at the time. Still, at the age I am now, I won't put up with that, pain or not.

We got a lot done over the weekend with the property, but it about broke me. It is four days later and I am still so sore I am at bare minimums. I wouldn't have pushed so hard, but my mother was being kind of crazy about things and sometimes it is just easier to do what she wants so she will shut up about it. Even if it wrecks me. Of course then she feels all guilty because I'm out of commission for days afterwards, but at least she got what she wanted.

I love my mother, but sometimes she is so manipulative that it is awful living with her. She just really can't live on her own. She fell twice last week and she left the burner on the oven going twice in the last two weeks after she was done cooking. She'd turned off the fan on the stove though, so the gas fumes could have filled up the house if my son hadn't caught it. She's also left the front door open a couple of times in the last few months and gone to the grocery store early when everyone else was still sleeping.

Even when we do have a down payment saved up for a house I don't know what I am going to do about her. I am hoping my eldest sister will move in, since she is single and complains about her rent all the time. I don't think my middle sister will do anything to help. She hasn't so far. At least the eldest has helped both with Dad before he died and with Mom a little. Not much with Mom, but a little.

I guess we will see when we get there. We are still quite a ways off from when we can start saving for a house again. The debt should be paid off by March at the latest and then we work on the EF until we have 3 months wages, which will take 9 months which puts us out to December of 2020. So in January of 2021 we can start saving for a house.

I figure at that point we will save $1500 a month for a house and put the other $300 a month into the Emergency Fund. I want to build the EF to 6 months wages, but figure we can relax about how aggressive we need to be after 3 months are in place and work towards that a little more gradually.

When DH was given his raise they said not to expect another one before July of 2020, which is fine. It was a really large raise. So unless he gets a promotion before then and possibly even if he does, his income won't go up again until that point. There is a guy retiring in December and they are looking at DH to take his place. Whether or not that happens is anyone's guess.

I am not sure how big a deposit I want to build. The houses around here go for $250K to $450K depending on what part of the county you choose and whether or not you want more than a postage stamp yard, which we do for the garden. I want an acre so we can have a lawn as well as a big garden. So that probably puts us more around $350K range. So at the very least we'd need to save $70K for a 20 percent down payment. At $1500 a month that would take us 47 months or just shy of 4 more years or the end of 2024, beginning of 2025. By then we will be 55 years old. Maybe a little sooner if MIL continues to dole out money.

Even then, a part of me is hesitating. My mother turns 80 in August. I don't know how much longer she has, although I have often joked that she will outlive me. She is in good health physically, more or less, just worn out. Part of me thinks we should just stay here until she dies, if she is still alive by the time we have a down payment saved up.

Except when she goes on one of her manipulations, I like living here. We all get along pretty well. The house is nice, even if our section of it is small, and the property is great. I have my garden the way I want it and we are close to the doctors, the grocery stores, the bus line, the parks, and it is just a wonderful neighborhood aside from Evil Hummer Dude, who lets his dog poop in everyone's yard and doesn't clean up after it, and we seldom see him since he only lives here during the months when Nevada is too hot.

I guess I just worry about leaving my mom on her own. It is so weird how the roles reverse when our parents age.